The term ‘look before you leap’ was introduced as a caveat to riders, to observe what was on the other side of a given fence before leaping over it on horseback. The same notion can be applied to couples preparing to wed. While the occasion is joyous, it is a legal contract. Here are some things to consider before ‘leaping,’ as it were, into something you can’t get out of.
Get a Prenuptial Agreement
A prenuptial agreement is a document that highlights the financial responsibility of each party. Who pays the mortgage? Who pays the utilities? Who gets what portion of X stock and X estate should the marriage fail? It’s not enjoyable to think about, but it’s important to have your ducks in a row. Statistically, 50% of marriages end up in divorce.
To Each His Own
Keep your assets separate for a while. This may save you a lot of trouble later when it’s time to sift through the paperwork. Traditionally, your assets become theirs, and theirs, yours. You may enjoy your spouse’s life insurance policy proceeds, or their pension, should they pass away. Your spouse may feel different. Hammer out the details in the beginning and update it later, after you’ve had a few arguments and the both of you are confident that the marriage will work.
Write Up Your Will
A will is much more than a declaration of whether or not to pull the plug. It’s a legal contract by which estates and assets are granted to spouses and children. Theoretically, you may choose to leave your spouse nothing, but without the will in place, the courts will have no other choice than to grant all of your estate and your combined assets to your spouse in the event of your death.
If you wish to assign your partner healthcare proxy over you in the event that you are deemed unable to make decisions on your own; you must document this in writing. Ask your spouse to do the same.